Doomsday: No shortage of Manic Panic. Or gore.

First of all, I wish to reassure everyone. If you ever get quarantined in Scotland during an outbreak of a terrifying virus, THERE WILL BE ENOUGH MANIC PANIC HAIR DYE FOR EVERYONE. You will not have to live without that purple mohawk just because the government has left you behind concrete walls to die. Someone in Scotland has also apparently been stockpiling tattoo guns and ink, fishnets, axes, and Adam Ant CDs, so you should be well prepared to make a go of it as part of a cannibalistic tribe whose leader has a fondness for stage shows.

Doomsday is essentially a remix of several other movies. At one point it’s Aliens, at several points it’s Mad Max, and for about 15 minutes it’s Lord of the Rings. This is not a bad thing. It is a bad movie, but we thought it was bad enough to be fun.

Rhona Mitra plays Major Eden Sinclair, a complete badass SWAT team type who is sent into the quarantine zone to find out why the hell the survivors haven’t used up all the gasoline yet since it’s been 30 years. I mean, to find a cure for the virus since there’s been another outbreak. It turns out the survivors are a bit on the nasty side, and mayhem ensues.

I really enjoyed Mitra’s portrayal of Sinclair. She’s tough, and even though she has some pain from her childhood, the filmmakers don’t use it to undermine her authority or her strength. She has one scene with a couple of tears, but aside from that she’s all business. I saw only a couple of tiny nods to her gender. One of the government folks says, distinctly enough that the audience is supposed to notice, “We need your best man for this assignment.” Then when she meets her squad, one of the guys seems to give her some attitude and is checked by the second in command, but I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a gender thing or not. There isn’t much about Sinclair that would have to be revised if the character were a man. (Perhaps a bit of the chatter from the bad guy while he’s holding her as a prisoner, but not by much.)

Sinclair is not a mother, she’s not falling in love with anyone, she’s not waiting to be healed from her trauma so she can find her feminine side and connect with someone. She’s a warrior, and she likes it. Does she walk around in a tank top and skin-tight pants for a lot of the movie? Yes. Do I wish that were handled differently? Yes, but that would be expecting a lot of Hollywood. Sinclair doesn’t quite grab my heart the way some of my other four star picks have done (Selene from Underworld, Tank Girl, Lorna from Lethal Weapon 3), but I respect her 100% and I greatly enjoy seeing her fight.

So often, a woman warrior this good is the only woman in the world. Here Doomsday does a little better than I expected. One of the commandos, a tank driver, is a woman. One of the resistance fighters in the quarantine zone is a woman. She’s a mixed bag, but she’s got some spunk. And then there’s Viper. Played by Lee-Anne Liebenberg, she’s one of the aforementioned cannibalistic tribe members. She is The Girlfriend, but she’s one hell of a vicious fighter and seems like more of a partner in crime than an accessory. Sinclair has to fight her, but Sinclair basically has to fight everyone, so it didn’t strike me as the obligatory chick fight.

At this point, only considering gender, I would have given Doomsday a full three stars.

But here is my take on race in Doomsday:

All the women are white. There is one Black Man. He dies helping the white people escape so they can save the world.

Do not complain about spoilers. This is not a spoiler! You can practically guess it from the cast list. (What I wouldn’t give to see a movie where one of the scientists was of African descent and one of the commandos was of Asian descent. Let me know if there is one, I will review it immediately. Please note that for this purpose, commando does not equal ninja.) I liked Sinclair’s professional relationship with Norton, the African-American commando, because it felt very respectful and human. I would have liked it better if he wasn’t so obviously MARKED FOR DEATH.

So I give Doomsday two stars.

That said, if you’re not fine with gore, don’t see it. Really. I had to cover my eyes several times.

More commentary: Review: Doomsday by Eric D. Snider at Cinematical and Doomsday: Total Nonsense–But Awesome! by Charlie Jane Anders at i09

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

4 thoughts on “Doomsday: No shortage of Manic Panic. Or gore.

  1. Revena

    I didn’t really have any interest in seeing this from the previews, but now I think I will. I love me some warrior women. That’s crummy about the lack of representation for people of color, though. :-(

  2. Skye

    Ooops, I forgot to mention that there is a minor pole-dancing issue as well. Another reason why it wouldn’t have hit four stars.

  3. Ron

    Skye, the first example that I can think of movies with an Asian commando is “Executive Decision”. The Asian in question is BD Wong, probably best known for his role as Dr. Huang on “Law & Order: SVU”. The ironic thing is that he is gay in real life, so seeing him play a bad-ass special forces guy is kind of funny in that regard. The movie’s closest thing to an actual “scientist” would be Joe Morton’s character, the black commando who is also a bomb expert tasked with dismantling the huge device that serves as the story’s McGuffin.

    Unfortunately that movie also suffers from some terrible stereotypes. The only women in the movie are frightened passengers and airline stewardesses, one of whom (Halle Berry) does provide minor assistance to the good guys in their quest to retake the airplane, but really spends most of the movie being a hostage that has to be rescued by the men just like everyone else. She also spends the rest of the time before the terrorists strike talking with her female colleague about the other’s upcoming marriage (as if they have nothing better to talk about). This poor sap then, summarily, gets killed, as if we would not feel sorry for her if she weren’t about to get married.

    This being a movie about terrorists taking over an airplane, I doubt I even have to get into the negative stereotypes about Muslims portrayed here.

    There is also the fact that this movie has Steven Seagal in it. The one redeeming factor about this movie for me was the fact that Seagal’s character dies (quite spectacularly, in fact) within the first 20 minutes of the movie. That alone makes it worth it, and certainly makes it the best Seagal movie I’ve ever seen.

    In short, this is not exactly a movie that I’d recommend. Another movie that comes to mind when thinking of a multi-racial cast of commandos, however, is the original Predator. A movie that does not have much in the way of Heroine Content, but might be interesting to you insofar as the racial aspect goes. That is, if you can get past the gore. :-)

  4. Skye

    Ron, I can’t say I’m motivated to see it from your description, but I’m glad of the existence proof.

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